In recent years, I've been called the "mother of minimalism" because my award-winning cookbooks feature recipes using only three ingredients.
This minimalist approach is the best way I know to get people cooking again. It is also the best way to appreciate the inherent flavors of nature.
Think of the transparent sound of a small chamber orchestra, or the comprehensive clarity of haiku poetry. When it comes to the senses, less is often more. And so it is with our palates and the way we experience taste. If there are too many ingredients in a dish, tastes are muddled. I call this "flavor cover-up." But when a few fresh, high-quality ingredients are given a chance to shine, their flavors are not only clarified but also maximized.
My three-ingredient formulations are perfect for home cooks because they produce dishes that are concentrated in flavor and elemental in taste. But they also streamline "prep" and "cooking" time, not to mention valuable time at the supermarket. Imagine being able to make a four-course dinner for six and breeze through the express check-out!
But today, professional chefs have also embraced the power of simplicity.
The great chef Joel Robuchon says of the trend away from excess and pretense, "we've moved towards a cuisine where the original flavor of the natural product is the most important element in the dish. We're aiming for simplicity."
The brilliant chef Georges Blanc concurs. "Plates are simpler now, with only two or three elements in a dish. The goal is to achieve depth and flavor based on fresh ingredients perfectly cooked."
Taste, a complex realm that transcends the mere ingredients of a dish, plays upon our memories, our cultures and on our genes, for each of our palates are as individual as our fingerprints. It takes only a few components of a recipe to trigger a cavalcade of flavors and sensations -- and once that is accomplished, we should learn that enough is truly enough. But the big payoff is that not only is cooking simply a delicious way to eat, but an extraordinarily healthy one too. Now that's powerful stuff.